News / Asia

Karaoke and Counseling: Japan’s Tsunami Survivors Try to Rebuild

Henry Ridgwell

It has been nearly a year since the huge tsunami hit northern Japan, killing tens of thousands of people and destroying entire settlements.  Many survivors are struggling through the winter in shelters or temporary housing.  In the town of Ofunato reconstruction efforts well underway.  But there is wide uncertainty among the survivors about the future of their hometowns

Karaoke is helping to heal the wounds of last year’s tsunami.  Traditional folk songs are favorite among the residents of Ofunato’s temporary housing, like Kazue Hashiguchi.

She says it is good fun and heals the heart.  She says gathering together in a group and singing and talking to each other is great.

This musical get-together is taking place on board a purpose-built truck currently touring Japan’s tsunami-hit coast, bringing counseling and karaoke to the bereaved communities.

Yoshinobu Konno is from the charity ‘Friends of the United Nations,’ which came up with the idea.

He says people who live in these small prefabricated houses lost their families and their homes and are often depressed.  He says they are often alone, they do not want to make contact with other people, they become introspective.  He says his group is concerned that people could die here alone in their houses.  He says his charity is intervening to try to prevent mental illnesses from taking hold.

Dozens of housing blocks have been erected in Japan in the months following the tsunami.  Visiting salesmen bring life’s essentials - and even the odd luxury like locally caught cod roe.

In a small cove below Ofunato, there is nothing left of the residents’ original homes.  Demolition teams have flattened the few structures that the tsunami left behind.

Ofunato was one of the worst hit towns when the tsunami roared ashore nearly a year ago.

Further south, a freighter still looms over Kesennuma town, carried several kilometers inland by the tsunami.

It is impossible to forget the horrors of a year ago, but the town is trying to move on.

A mini-village has sprung up to re-house businesses washed away.  Chefs and shopkeepers offer a taste of Kesennuma’s once-famed seafood.

Among them, Masayoshi Hatakeyama.  His traditional Japanese inn was entirely destroyed.  His new workplace may be cramped, but he says it is a first step on a very long road.

He says the tsunami destroyed a huge area so it will take a long time and hard work to get back to how it was before.  He says it will not be like it was before - they will have to create a new town.

Under the direction of a newly-formed Ministry of Reconstruction, this wrecked coastline is being transformed with astonishing speed.

Back in Ofunato, survivors say it will take much longer to rebuild their communities; many question whether anyone will want to live here at all.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs